The St. Clair County Historical Society will host a Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration Ceremony at 11:55 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, at Messinger Cemetery, 3450 Old Collinsville Road, Belleville. The event is free of charge and open to the public.
The ceremony will include a color guard provided by the Caseyville Veterans of Foreign Wars post, historical readings of eye-witness accounts and a reading of the Dec. 8, 1941 editorial from the Belleville News-Democrat. The editorial was printed the Monday after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The original editorial reads: “The time for indecision is past. ... Up to the time of the attack yesterday there was still hope that war could be avoided or at least delayed. Now we must all unite on one solid front and give everything we have to crush our enemies. There can no longer be any such thing as neutrality on the part of any nation anywhere on this earth.”
William Shannon, curator of the St. Clair County Historical Society, said the specific time of the ceremony was chosen because it coincided with the first attacks by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.
The location, Messinger Cemetery, is also special. Shannon believes the Pearl Harbor monument at the Messinger Cemetery is one of the oldest monuments of its kind in the United States. He said he read that information in the Belleville News-Democrat.
The paper reported the dedication of the monument on Sunday, July 26, 1942.
In the original story, the Rev. B.J. Koehler, who was pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Church, called the dedication a “memorial day for the heroes of Pearl Harbor.” He said, “So far as I can learn, this is the first monument to be erected in the United States to the memory of those brave men.”